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December 07, 2012, Friday

Formula for immunity row

The debate over whether to remove the parliamentary immunity of some Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies, accused of being linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has become even more controversial since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government is said to be working on a formula to circumvent the immunity controversy.

 AK Party deputy Burhan Kuzu said his party is planning to adopt the criteria of the European Union to decide whether to lift the immunity of deputies who are accused of serious crimes such as links to terrorism. “If political parties want, parliamentary commissions can be established to deal with all the motions prepared against the deputies. It would be very good to examine motions that contain accusations of links to terrorism and sexual harassment, as is done in European countries,” Kuzu stated.

However, Bugün’s Gülay Göktürk says these criteria are problematic. “Why is it only the accusations of links to terror and sexual harassment? Are these two worse than any other crime? Are they bigger crimes than murder or staging a coup? The fact that this is a practice in European countries does not necessarily make it reasonable,” she says, and suggests that what should be done is to bring every deputy who is accused of any crime before a judge. Any “formula” other than this will be unfair and open to political exploitation, Göktürk notes.

Taraf’s Kurtuluş Tayiz focuses on BDP deputy Gülten Kışanak’s remarks that if the BDP deputies are forced to leave Parliament, the rest of the BDP deputies will consider resigning as well. Yet, according to Tayiz, this remark does not mean that the government is putting the representation of Kurds in Parliament at risk by maintaining its firm stance on the immunity issue. The BDP’s main problem stems from its persistence in remaining an offshoot of the terrorist PKK, he says. Just as the PKK’s aims and acts have nothing to do with Kurds’ freedom or rights, the problem the BDP has with the ruling party and the reason it receives such a strong reaction from the public does not stem from its efforts for Kurds; it stems from the BDP lending support to the PKK and its priorities and needs. As a matter of fact the BDP has no problem with the demands of Kurds being met in Parliament, Tayiz notes.

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